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Happiness Index

RSS feeds, interactive database visualisation

2015 (update) imMEDIATE Exhibition, Melbourne Media Lab, Australia

The Happiness Index, or HI, is a critique on modern society’s manic obsession with quantitative analysis of a myriad of human states, such as IQ, EQ, and yes, happiness.

The base application trawls through the internet’s various RSS feeds of news headlines from around the world. A search algorithm finds and breaks up the verbs in each headline, storing them in a database for further judgement and allocation.

A keyword analysis application, known as HIKAP (Happiness Index Keyword Analysis Program), presents each stripped keyword as individual elements, requesting that they each be granted an arbitrary value of happiness: -100 being extremely unhappy, to +100 being ecstatic. Both the artist and invited demographics spend time assigning these arbitrary values.

Finally, a presentation application reveals each day’s happiness, dependent on the combined wealth of headlines gathered across all daily online news feeds.

The Happiness Index is thus derived from a compounded, non-associative nor context-aware set of happiness indicators stored within each headline, but ironically throws up the occasional startling revelation, or perhaps half-truth, revealing the actual mood of a headline.